So Much For Dale Carnegie Intros
The guy was miles out in the wilderness, wore animal skins, and called his audience “a brood of snakes.” So much for surveying the felt needs of your potential audience, creating a catchy brand, using high-powered media advertising, and booking a comfortable auditorium. The reality of human nature is that if you light a fire, multitudes rush to see the flames.
In about AD 29 the Spirit of God lit a fire in John, an outdoorsman living in the desert close to the Jordan. Crowds flocked to be baptized by him, but rather than collaborating with his inner circle on how to attract an even larger audience, John shouted to the crowd that they were in imminent danger of being burned themselves by the just wrath of God. It was time to get right with God. He was not some crazy street preacher. This was a Jewish priest’s son, the prophet anointed by God the Father to prepare hearts to welcome His Son.
“Therefore he said to the crowds coming down to be baptized by him, ‘Brood of snakes, who has shown you how to flee from the imminent divine wrath? Produce fruit that is indicative of repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you, God is able out of these stones to raise up children of Abraham. Already the axe is set at the root of the trees. Every tree that is not bearing good fruit is being cut down and cast into the fire.’” - Luke 3:7-9.
The crowds coming down to hear John are all Jews. They’re proud of their ethnicity, roots going all the way back to Abraham. John warns them. Birth and roots mean nothing to God. Only repentant hearts and changed lives count.
God deals with each of us individually, and for the rest of Luke’s story we will get to meet those who radically turn away from their sin to God and those who, like Annas and Caiphas (the high priests he mentioned at the beginning of this episode), remain proud, unrepentant, and cold toward both John and Jesus. The axe is ready. John’s message is a desperate cry for folks to escape the imminent storm. It’s time to turn back to God now.
When John labels the crowds “a brood of snakes,” he’s not just being cantankerous. He’s reminding us of the major tension in the plot of God’s Story introduced in Genesis 3:15. It’s the constant war between the “seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent.” In Luke’s account John is about to baptize that ultimate male child who God promised would come—the son the Snake would strike in the heel, but the Victor who would crush the Snake’s head. The brood of snakes needs to repent and join the other side.
LORD, by your Spirit light an authentic fire in me. Keep turning my heart daily over to Your will and not my own. Generate concrete evidence by my actions today that Jesus, the Messiah, lives in my heart and is in control. Help me confront the false belief that traditions and pedigrees count when we stand before You. Thanks for the ruggedness and purity of John’s example as he prepares hearts to receive Your Son
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!
You can also listen to weekly messages from Dave on OnePlace.com.